Archive for September, 2008

Web based MySQL Administration

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

screenshot of SQL Buddy

SQL (Structured Query Language) is the lingua franca of the database world. While there may be proprietary languages used by different applications, most of them speak SQL, and certainly the most powerful ones use this. When constructing SQL statements, it's possible to be very precise in getting what you want from a database. Unfortunately, sometimes the syntax can get pretty complicated, and it's easy to know what you want and maybe a little harder to get the result you're looking for. There are tools out there that can help you with some of the more complicated queries, or to give you a hand if you're only an occasional SQL user and can't put your finger on just the right syntax.

SQL Buddy is a web-based tool that lets you easily manipulate your databases. With an intuitive interface, you don't have to memorize tons of arcane commands to get work done. Add and drop tables, Add a column. Tweak an entry. There now, that wasn't so hard, was it?

Install SQL Buddy on your web server and you're ready to go. You need to be running PHP 4.3 or later, with MySQL 4 or better. It's compatible with Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer, so you'll really be in control of your database in a jiffy.

SQL Buddy is a free download.

Download SQL Buddy

Family Tree Templates

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

screenshot of Family Tree Templates

Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies in the country. Where else can you collect things–in this case, ancestors–without filling up boxes, bookcases, and curio cabinets? (No, you can't stick Uncle Joe in a box!) Once you have your lists of the "who" and "when" of your family, what do you do with them? An affordable answer to that question is to grab some free family tree templates at

Family Tree Templates are available in a wide variety of styles. There are "formal" templates that take a bare-bones "just the facts" approach, with room for names and vital statistics. Others include graphics to dress them up. Some even have places to add photos of your family members, making your project much more personal.

With over 20 family tree templates and ancestor charts to choose from, they're perfect for genealogy research and class projects. Best of all, they're all available for free.

Family Tree Templates are available for free download. You'll need a recent version of Adobe Reader or compatible program that can read PDF files to print them out. Also available are Templates in Microsoft Word (DOC) format, that you can edit with your computer. They run $4 each.

Download Family Tree Templates

Circle Dock: The Open Source Circular and Spiral Dock for Windows

Monday, September 8th, 2008

screenshot of Circle Dock

The Dock is a great innovation in desktop application management. You get to keep a pile of shortcuts to the tools you use most often; add to that new entries for each app that's currently running. Now you're cooking with gas!

The thing is, even though the Dock may be the second greatest thing since sliced bread (you can choose for yourself what the best thing is), it's always got one shortcoming: it is where you aren't. You live most of your computing life out in the middle of your screen—applications, documents, everything interesting is out at the center of the display, but your Dock sits along the edge, a virtual wallflower. If you could move your Dock into the center and away from the side or bottom of the screen, you just might be a little more efficient.

Circle Dock does just that. Rather than Dock-as-straight-line, you can now use a Dock that is circular or even spiral in shape. Drag it around the screen; put it where it makes sense to you—maybe some place where you don't have to move your mouse halfway across the screen just to click on an application icon. Who knows, maybe doing away with all those extra mouse movements will make you so much more efficient, you'll get your work done in half the time—or at least be the talk of the office.

Circle Dock is a free download. It's a Windows app and runs under Windows XP and later, and requires version 2 of the .NET Framework.

Download Circle Dock

Secure email encryption and privacy for free

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

screenshot of Flexcrypt Free

When you send an email, you can be pretty sure that somebody unintended may be looking at it. Whether it's your IT guys, some hacker out there, or even the guys in the black helicopters, email is an inherently insecure way to communicate. It may not make much difference when your message is a note to your spouse to remember to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home from work, but when you're sending trade secrets or other confidential information, it may not be your best bet.

Flexcrypt Free is a tool that may help you to feel a little better about sending your sensitive information to others in email. When you send a message, it encrypts it and keeps it that way until it arrives at its final destination. Using passwords you create, Flexcrypt employs 256-bit encryption, meaning that it's not likely that your message will be misappropriated in this, or several more, lifetimes.

With this free version, up to three people can communicate this way. Flexcrypt only works with desktop email applications, since it runs on your local machine.

Flexcrypt Free is a Windows application. It runs under WinXP and Vista. If you need to communicate securely with more than three other people, they have paid versions as well.

Download Flexcrypt Free

PDFLab lets Mac users manipulate PDF documents

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

screenshot of PDFLab

One of our favorite features on the Macintosh is the built-in ability to create PDF files. While those files won't have all the bells and whistles of those created by a full-on version of Adobe Acrobat, you can take all the money you've saved and buy yourself some solace.

Sometimes those PDF files are great just as they roll off the system; other times it would be handy if you could manipulate them—maybe combine a couple of them, remove a few pages from another, reorder the pages, and all that. While this isn't something that OS X lets you do natively, a quick download of a tool like PDFLab can make that all available to you.

With its easy to use interface, PDFLab lets you take your PDFs and add images, insert blank pages, concatenate several smaller documents into a larger one, split large ones in to smaller ones, insert a watermark, and more. It's a free download, so there's really no reason not to take it out for a spin.

PDFLab is a free Mac application.

Download PDFLab

iAntiVirus offers security for Mac systems

Friday, September 5th, 2008

screenshot of iAntiVirus

There aren't tons of Cupertino-hating viruses out there, but it's still prudent to keep your system as buttoned-up as possible. There are several free options for anti-virus tools out there for Windows machines, but not so many for Macs. iAntiVirus is one of the latter.

Created by the folks at PC Tools, iAntiVirus will help protect your Mac against infection by viruses, worms, and many of the other "nasties" that can at best slow your system down, and at worst wipe out your personal data and more.

While you can use it to scan your system on a regular basis to look for problems, it also helps you to stay secure in real time, running silently in the background keeping an eye on things. It includes automatic "smart update" functionality, making sure that your protection is always up to date.

iAntiVirus is a Mac application. It only runs on Intel-based Macs, and requires OS X 10.5 or later.

Download iAntiVirus

Convert text to speech with Hear Who

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

screenshot of Hear Who

In spite of all the images and multimedia content, the World Wide Web is at its root, a textual medium. Web pages depend primarily on text to get their information across. If you have problems with that text—you can't see it at all because of visual limitations, you can't read it well because it's so darn small, or you're just too busy to linger over it—you need to convert it into a more friendly format. One tool you might want to check out is Hear Who.

Take any chunk of text, whether it's a web page, a Word DOC, or any other textual content, copy and paste it into the box on the page, click the button, and your text will be converted into an MP3 file that you can listen to immediately, or download to listen to later. You've can select whether to use a male or female voice, optimize file size (best quality vs. smallest file size), and even choose an English or Spanish speaker.

Hear Who is a free service. It was originally designed for use by the handicapped and organizations who help them, but you can use its services to help you out as well.

Download Hear Who

Childproof your Windows keyboard with Babysmash

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

screenshot of Babysmash

Hey, why should Mac babies have all the fun? In yesterday's post, we talked about AlphaBaby for Mac users. Today, we have a similar tool for the parents of budding Windows users.

Babysmash is a way to babyproof your PC while at the same time helping to entertain your little geek-in-training. Once you start Babysmash, you effectively cut your system off from most normal system-side functionality. With the [Windows] key, [Control]+[Escape] and [Alt]+[Tab] out of the way, you've dramatically decreased the danger of junior wreaking total havoc on your system. Key presses now generate letters, shapes, and numbers instead of fatal system errors. Hey, you get to sit there and type away, so why shouldn't your little helper have a chance too?

Babysmash is a Windows application. It requires version 3.5 of the .NET Framework.

Download Babysmash

Childproof your Mac keyboard with AlphaBaby

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

screenshot of AlphaBaby

We've all heard about the phenomenon of cats typing. Walk away from your system, and Mr. Kitty jumps up on the keyboard and tries his hand (paw?) at typing Hamlet for you. Hopefully you just end up with a bad play; worst case, maybe you've just emailed your credit card information to Uzbekistan.

One step removed from cats on the keyboard is babies on the keyboard. While they're not likely to just take a literal random walk across your desktop, they do love to bang on those keys. Hey, mom and dad do it, so why can't I? Why not indeed.

Give your little geek-in-training a chance with AlphaBaby. Run this app and it grabs control of your keyboard. Now instead of renaming your hard drive or looking like you're trying to hack your way into NORAD, when junior pokes a key, you get letters, shapes, and sounds, rather than system crashes.

AlphaBaby is a Mac application. (Windows users check out tomorrow's offering: Babysmash.) The latest version requires OS X 10.5 (Leopard). They also have older versions for use with earlier releases of OS X.

Download AlphaBaby

Invoice Templates

Monday, September 1st, 2008

screenshot of Printable Invoice Templates

Whether you're a small business, or a not-so-small business, if you're going to last very long, you need an income. You provide goods or services (or both) for your clients and customers, and it would be nice if they paid you for your hard work—after all, you can't run your business on good intentions alone. For that matter, if you're a non-profit who mostly does run on good intentions, you probably have expenses that you incur that need to be reimbursed. No matter how you slice it, you need that income. That means you need to send out bills.

There are several different approaches you can take to generate invoices to send to your customers. You can buy an expensive computerized system to generate bills, but you know that's going to cost you a pretty penny. Or you can run down to the local office supply store and grab a pad of invoice forms and fill them in by hand, although that torn-from-a-book look doesn't seem very professional. Another approach to take is to visit the folks at offers over 60 downloadable templates for invoices, statements, purchase orders, and more. Download the free PDF versions and print them out. Now you'll can be taken seriously, the money will come rolling in, and you'll be on the path to success. They've also got customizable (Microsoft Word DOC) versions of these financial documents that you can grab for a couple of bucks.

Printable Invoice Templates require the free Adobe Reader program. They should be compatible with most modern systems.

Download Printable Invoice Templates